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Transition Heriot-Watt

  • Hub: Scotland
  • Topics: Food & drink, Knowledge & learning, Transport

Heriot-Watt is serious about combating the effect we have on the environment, whether it’s from out students or staff. Transport is a key issue to tackle; we need to reduce our carbon footprint around travel, especially in getting to and from the university.

 To that end, we’ve set up a new group called Transition Heriot-Watt with funding from the Climate Challenge Fund and under the Transition Network umbrella organisation. The Transition Network looks to a future after cheap oil and asks communities to assess how they will travel, feed themselves, use energy and deal with their waste once oil is no longer affordable. Being part of this international network means HWU can access a wide range of support and immediately join an established environmental brand and action group.

 One of three universities in Scotland to win such funding, THW represents the staff and students of the Heriot-Watt University and is an independent community association. For this first year THW is focusing on travel to and from the campus at Riccarton. This fits very well with the aims of Healthy Universities, with objectives to get people cycling and walking more – good for their mental and physical health.

 THW will aim to make it easier, faster, cheaper and healthier to choose options like cycling and walking, matching an environmental improvement to the health improvement of getting out of the car and taking up other options. We’re addressing barriers like a lack of transport information, cycling costs, perceptions of danger from traffic or other transport users, lack of skills with cycle maintenance, and other issues.

We’re running eco-travel days, conducting surveys of cycle rack usage, and also staff and students attitudes to travel to HWU, a film festival, attending Freshers and Returners weeks, cycle training and maintenance sessions, working with Watt Walks to get people out and walking, HWU Student Association and Chaplaincy, the HWU cycle groups and other societies and associations, and of course closely with Healthy Universities. A second survey in March 2012 will include questions around increases in fitness amongst HWU staff and students.

 You can see our work (in development and led by students and staff) in action at: www.transitionheriot-watt.org.uk, tweeting on @transitionHW and on Facebook.

Transition Heriot-Watt – Key Messages and Outcomes

THW aims to:

–           Strengthen our student and staff community to become more resilient in the face of climate change and the end of cheap fossil fuel;

–           Initiate and support projects which improve quality of life and the move to low energy living;

–           Raise awareness of environmental issues, to change attitudes towards them, and to promote positive behaviour change.

Key Messages:

–           It is cheaper, faster, easier and healthier to change the way you travel;

–           Heriot-Watt University should not only to travel sustainably, but be seen to;

–           The end of cheap oil is an environmental and strategic risk for HWU and needs to be addressed.

Out targets are quite conservative, and we plan to exceed these amongst the 7,000 students and 1,600 staff at HWU!

Target/Action

50 people cycling 2-3 times a week more

120 people adopting eco-driving techniques

100 more car sharing

40 people using public transport 2-3 times a week more

2% reduction in CO2 emissions, currently 5,121tCO2/year

Fitness and Health levels

Contact j.m.thorne@hw.ac.uk for more on any of the above information.